The book I read this week was on the recommendation of my friend Stephanie, whose book-taste I trust like no other.
When I first saw the title I was not too interested-it seemed extreme and just some made up idea to write a book about. But something about Stephanie's review drew me in and I ended up with this book on my big stack, interrupting my WWII binge.
And I loved it-is was nothing like I thought it would be. She is an ordinary person (meaning lives a normal, non-extreme way of family life when it comes to food) and after watching a You-Tube video (this one-it's long and I didn't make it all the way through but far enough) she decided she wanted to make some changes. She also LOVES dessert and is a baker-her description of herself when she was little I could just totally relate to. Once she did something naughty and the worse things her parents could think to punish her with was no desserts for a month. She described it as torturous. Chapter 1 is titled, "I Love Sugar."
She chronicles the year, the exceptions she made (which gave me some great guidelines for myself) and the things she observed. The book is also super informative but not in a boring way. She is so funny.
Sugar is added into almost everything. If you want to be frustrated, go to the grocery store and look at most ingredients (I had to remember to bring my glasses) in all packaged food. Sugar in pesto? Sugar in all bread? Sugar in spaghetti sauce? Sugar in all snack food but one type of pretzel (Snyder's Hard Pretzels) and plain potato chips? Sugar in soup? Sugar in "healthy" yogurt? EVERYTHING. Maybe one or two types of cereal? HELLO!!! It's gross, seriously gross. And sometimes it is disguised by a bunch of different names, but it's still the same old sugar.
Add on top of all that the obvious desserts-this is not even considering the sugar-laden fast food and pop-and here we have the health crisis we are facing today.
TWO AND A HALF POUND OF SUGAR per WEEK is the average amount ingested per person. I picture cutting the 5 pound bag we buy in half and spooning that into each of our mouths-double gross.
Another eye-opening thing-how much our kids ingest-how much is given to them in treats every day at school, at every function, at every holiday. (I think I have written on this before-just general overkill in every area of raising kids today-'a cupcake and juice box after a soccer game, don't forget your Gatorade syndrome' it could be called.)
"My sugar-distant vantage point was giving me a unique view of the holiday season, and I was shocked at what I saw. I realized that is had become SO cheap and SO easy to hand a child a treat that inflation had set in. No longer is it sufficient for the teacher to bring the kids each a doughnut-there had to be a pile of candy next to it. No longer is it sufficient for kids to get a single treat at each house, now many houses go to the trouble of packing little paper candy bags full of several treats each. No longer is it sufficient to have a treat of two (or fourteen) from the candy bag that night; we have to provide dessert on top of that. Because what else do you do? It's Halloween! Or Christmas! Or Valentine's Day! Or somebody's birthday! Or you're just feeling depressed! Or happy!"
If our body processes sugar like it would a poison, are we not poisoning our kids (and ourselves) slowly?
The cool thing with this book, believe it or not, is I didn't walk away feeling panicked and like I had to start tossing everything in our cupboard and freaking my kids out, giving away all their Halloween candy and never baking cookies again.
Our sugar consumption as a country has risen dramatically-when sugar was once a very occasional treat, is now us dumping it down our throats every day...
...and I wanted to get back to the "treat' stage after reading this book. Taking it out of every day things that weren't even meant to be sweet, and making it something to look forward to occasionally with something very special.
And then maybe when we lose the constant sweetness in our diet we become more sensitive to that sweet taste like the author and her family did, so we don't need so much of it (cups and cups!) in the cookie or the banana bread or the cake, which is also a great way to cut down. The author did such a good job describing this-how her taste buds changed and how she came to think of that special treat she allowed them once a month as something really special-not some store-bought cookie, or junkie piece of candy, but took the time to make it "worth" it-
"I had come to understand that while sugar is fun, it is nutritionally expensive-why would I want to waste my allotment of it on vending machine candy or breakfast cereal? Why not save it for something truly special?"
So that is what I am doing here. I have a set of rules for myself that still allow me to have my special treats, just very occasionally on holidays and birthdays, (back to a modified whole30 after August wreaked havoc) and I'm reading labels at the store and searching for better alternatives for my family. I keep giving the kids little facts that I've read in the book and they are working with me to get even more health conscious than ever. I still have a few transitions to make (Jif and grape jelly) but I feel like we are heading in the right direction.